Volunteer Spotlight: Samantha Isaacs

Volunteer Spotlight: Samantha Isaacs

Tell us about your professional/educational background.
I am a Certified Medical Assistant and currently in my last year for my Bachelor’s degree in Health and Wellness. I worked in Hematology/Oncology from 2014-2015 and Rheumatology from 2015-2019. My current goal is to return to Rheumatology as a PA, using my background in Health and Wellness to guide my patients to a better life with their autoimmune disorders through nutrition and exercise.

What makes the National CMV Foundation's mission powerful for you?
When Hank was born, everything seemed so normal. There was nothing amiss about my pregnancy or his birth or anything thereafter. Following 6 months of appointments and various tests, we were given a diagnosis of Congenital CMV. Hank was my 3rd pregnancy, and never once had I been warned of this virus and I have never felt more let down by the community of medicine that I love so much. After my healing process, I decided I couldn’t let this happen to anyone I knew. The mission of raising awareness and educating women is a powerful one. All women of childbearing age deserve to have this information at their disposal. Families deserve to know what CMV is and where to start if they find themselves in the same boat as we did.

What made you decide to get more involved with the National CMV Foundation, as a Community Alliance Chair?
I decided to get involved with the Foundation as a Chair through a lot of prayer. We all wonder what we can do as just “little ol’ me” and my impact thus far doesn’t seem to have been much. A few friends and family members have let me know they advocated for testing early in their pregnancies because they knew they could. Hank and I have had a few news interviews and articles published, but no giant successes. I want whatever I do to point people toward better tomorrows. I want my impact to be a positive one, giving people a reason to celebrate and have hope. I believe that this position will allow me to reach people in a way that I haven’t been able to just yet. 

In your role as CMV Community Alliance Chair, what goals have you set for 2020?
My goal for 2020 is a basic goal of raising awareness and increasing education. I want to support families who are newly diagnosed, like I was supported by this same place.

I hope to host a 5K that we can do annually in Tallahassee. I also plan to have a CrossFit Competition to raise funds and awareness while we sweat for a cause.

An online poll for my area is being created to gauge a “before” representation of CMV knowledge and at the end of my time as a Chair, I’d like to send that poll out once more, a visual of what kind of impact we have made on our little community.

What does success look like to you?
Success in the short-term is finding opportunities to briefly engage about CMV. Encouraging one family to get tested pre-conception. Guiding one mother through the roller-coaster of Early Intervention and the team of physicians. That’s success.

Long-term? Long-term, the elimination of this disease. That’s what we are all after here. We all want everyone to know what it is and how to prevent it. We want science to catch up to us to create a vaccine. We want therapies and early interventions to give these children the greatest advantage we can. Ultimately, we want families across the nation to live the best lives they can with the cards they are dealt, and while we hope CMV isn’t in those cards, we are certainly here for them if it is.

What motivates you?
Hank is my motivation. Nothing comes easy for that sweet boy. Hank’s everything is a challenge and we have learned together, through tears and heartbreak. He never quits (except during Occupational Therapy) and I won’t quit either. Watching him take on life and all it has with his eyes bright and his smile wide, encourages me to do the same. Walk tall and get through the mud.

As a volunteer leader, what advice do you have for people who want to work on CMV advocacy, but don’t know where to start?
My advice is to start right where you are. Start with your town, your church, your place of employment. Share your story with local news and radio and bloggers. If your story helps one family, you’ve advocated beautifully. Don’t think that your story isn’t important, because it is.

Favorite quote?
Ironically, maybe, it’s a quote from Helen Keller. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

I really feel like that sums up advocacy. One story might change some things in a few places. Weave them together with thousands just like it and the waves of change grow. No one of us can do it all alone, but holding on to each other, we are capable of a great deal.

What do you like most about living in north Florida?
Who doesn’t love Florida, right?! I love where we live honestly because it’s so forgotten. It is actually nicknamed the “Forgotten Coast” because it seems as though commercialized tourism drove right by. An hour north we have Tallahassee, the big city. A 1.5-hour drive west and we get to Panama City, Destin, Fort Walton areas. We have so much to offer in our slice of heaven and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

You're happiest when?
I’m with my family and we are enjoying life together. Hank adores the beach and the park and going to museums, and his sisters are happy to oblige. We live our lives as normally as we can and that is what makes me happiest in the world.